Monday, April 23, 2012

First Ever Cackling Scribe Giveaway Extraveganza

Today I had another delivery of a big box of books (BBB) and it was just as magical as it was last time. This time I don't have as many beta-readers to give copies to so I thought I'd be kind to my bookshelf by giving one away instead. For free! (Woohoo).

So, if you'd like to get your hands on a free copy of Mapmaker's Apprentice all you have to do is leave a comment under this post telling me what temperature it is in your part of the world right now (in Centigrade, if you can, otherwise I get all confused). Currently where I am it's 14 and pouring, so I'm hoping for reports of at least a few warm temperatures to make me feel cosy. This coming Sunday afternoon, Central Australian time, I'll pick a winner at random (assuming there's more than one comment) and send a copy off in your direction.

So go on, get commenting!

I'll try and send one of the few unsmudged copies.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Showing Up in Public

The Children's Book Council of Australia is having its biennial National Conference in Adelaide next month, and I've been asked to chair a panel on the topic of 'Other worlds, other values?', with Eoin Colfer (of Artemis Fowl fame), Isobelle Carmody (a hugely popular Australian author whose work I haven't yet read), Sean Williams (one of my favourite authors) and D.M. Cornish (who I mention here).

It's a huge honour, though I'm alternating between moments of giddy excitement and unbridled terror. It also means I have a fair bit of reading to do between now and then in order to get familiar with Eoin's and Isobelle's (see? we're on first-name basis already) work, which will squeeze even more time out of the little thin toothpaste tube that represents the next four weeks. I'm sure I'll manage somehow. With an opportunity as incredible as this I could hardly do anything else.

So, if you're in Adelaide, or feel like coming to Adelaide, the conference details can be found here. I'm hoping to take a day off work and come for the Friday too, partly to hear the great speakers, partly to find out more about what a "chair" actually does. If you're there, please come and say hi. It would be wonderful to see you!

Friday, April 20, 2012

On Rejection

Every so often I get reminded of how subjective the whole publishing business can be. Most recently it happened when I had a short-story knocked back for a magazine and the comments from the two readers were, respectively, "the end was too predictable" and "I didn't understand the end".

But far from being depressed by the radically different ways two people can view the same work, I see it as an encouragement. Even if your story gets knocked back, ridiculed, torn apart, shredded, mocked and spat upon by one person, it may well make someone else's day. Never let a story sit on a hard-drive because it's been rejected a dozen times. Send it out again, and again, and again. Rejection doesn't always mean your story isn't good enough to publish, or that you can't write. Maybe it just hasn't come before the right pair of eyes yet, at the right time.

Maybe next time it will.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Five Minus Two Makes Three

If you've been reading the blog for a while, or if you read back far enough, you'll see that Tales of the Blue Jade was originally supposed to be 5 books. That was my intention right from the time I wrote the first sentence of Ghost of Ping-Ling, and it stayed with me ever since. My initial reasoning was simple - every fantasy author writes a trilogy, so why not try and do something different? So when book 1 was accepted for publication I dutifully sat down and wrote out a 1 page synopsis for 4 more books. And, even if I say so myself, I thought the overall story looked pretty good.

Now it seems the plans must change. In my eagerness to be different I never for a moment considered things from the publisher's point of view - that agreeing to publish 5 books by a completely unknown and untried author was not exactly sound business sense. This would appear to be even more true given the current sad state of the world economy and the book business in general.

So, this last week the crunch came. I was asked by my publisher if I could see any way of cutting the series from 5 to 3. My initial thought was "no way." I was half way through book 3 and had never considered it as the final book, how could I change it without a complete rewrite? How could I suddenly turn around and end a series when the whole story hadn't even reached the main conflict?

What followed was a fairly stressful and dare I say depressing couple of days. Then I had one of those rare and wonderful "ah-ha" moments. I realised that by altering a plot point in one of the last chapters, or rather changing which character has something nasty happen to them (as well as who causes it), I could close off several sub-plots in a reasonably satisfying way. That didn't immediately turn book 3 into the conclusion, but it gave me confidence that the idea might be feasible, with a little more thought. And, I'm happy to say, idea followed idea, as small plot tweaks led to other plot tweaks, all of which gradually transformed the book from cliffhanger-ending-installment to (hopefully) satisfying-series-conclusion.

I think it's going to work out.

So, the long and the short is, Tales of the Blue Jade will now be a trilogy, with the final instalment due for publication in May 2013. I hope, though, to be able to dive back in to the world of Pangaea fairly soon after that, and maybe even find a way to incorporate the original ending into a new adventure. Pangaea is a very big world, and so far we've only scratched the surface.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Short Story

My short story "Dead on the Doorstep" has just been published in the Spring issue of Kaleidotrope. You can find it here

I'll be interested to hear how it goes down. It's slightly different.